Directions Not Included

All major purchases include a set of strategic notes to help new product owners incorporate the acquisition into the daily life routine, explain best practices, guidance on use, troubleshooting tips and tricks for best performance. The product manual illustrates uses for the product, how it accomplishes particular feats and sometimes the specifics of each feature. Desired manuals include images depicting various maneuvers said product can successfully perform. Product guides vary in length based on the complexity of the item purchased.

​Last year, I drafted a Rice Cooker to play linebacker on my kitchen team. It sits on the counter right next my quarterback, Slow Cooker. When used together, Rice and Slow, execute an unstoppable play I have coined, vanishing dinner sneak. The handy manuals included with each provide step by step instructions on how to complete a shotgun meal pass my family devours as if they have been homeless without a helping hand offering them a morsel of nourishment for months on end.

​My wireless Blu-ray player instruction booklet assisted me, the new owner, through the initial steps of set up. Once I successfully set up my newly acquired piece of technology, the Blu-ray player prompted me to log on to the company’s website to access the online version of the instruction guide. The message indicated to always refer to the online guide due to the enhancements the player would routinely receive wirelessly. The online guide has escorted me out of many frustrating endeavors I have encountered when simply attempting to enjoy a night’s digital entertainment.

***

His three year old body couldn’t possibly hold 10 minutes of waste. I wonder what is taking him so long in there. I called out to check on his progress but his response was laced with fear and completely inaudible. Like any concerned mother I drop my book and dart into the bathroom.

His face was painted with tears of fear. At first glance everything seemed to be in order. Toilet paper – check. Liquid soap – check. No mess on the floor or walls – check. There is no visible sign of the catastrophe that was scribed on his pain-stricken face. This is not the same face I looked into this morning when we had the ever pressing conversation about underwear and the reason for wearing them. “Underwear is not just an extra piece of clothes to put on. They help protect you from accidents. I know you are a big boy now but accidents still happen.”

Here he stands 3 years old, in pain, all because he decided to go commando even after our early morning discussion. My poor little munchkin has managed to get his soon to be most prized body part caught in his zipper. I would like to say that I feel his pain at this moment but as a female I can’t say that I do. I think the closest that I could ever come to this is slamming my finger in a door which I have done before…OUCH!

“Come here. Let me see.” Closing the lid I have a seat and pull him closer to get a better look at the situation. I can see his flesh clinched between two teeth of the zipper. The only way to get it out is to unzip it. Just the thought is making me faint. I have to inflict the same level of pain to resolve his problem. At this moment I have no idea the best way to relieve my baby. How exactly am I supposed to solve this crisis?

***

Teeny is the neighbor who has been helping me figure out this thing called motherhood. When I hit a roadblock I call Teeny. When I need to bounce an idea off someone or need help determining whether to approve or deny a son’s request, I call Teeny. When I just need to get a moment I call Teeny. Today, I needed a moment.

Summers are hard for me, being home all day and night with three energetic boys is just plain exhausting. Teeny granted my wish, taking the older boys to the movies. Finally, a moment to sit here. I am going to do just that. Sit here. I love vegetating in moments of nothingness. Oh the peace and quiet. It’s almost like I am forgetting something.

Jon is the youngest of my three very unique sons, my little monkey, cute, cuddly and totally bananas. He is a very active, sweet, loving child who always dons a smile. He is a lover with lots of hugs to give. Jon strives to make people smile and laugh but, just like a monkey, he can be very mischievous. JON! That’s what I forgot. I should be making his lunch.

Opening the backdoor, I see Cooper, our dog but Jon is nowhere in sight. Calling him again, a faint feeling of panic is crawling up my throat. Maybe I should try the front door. It is unusual for Jon to skip a meal; he is just an eager eater. I know in my head it has only been a couple of minutes since I first called him in for lunch but my heart rate is signaling that too much time has passed. “JON!!”

He approaches slowly, at snail’s pace really. Slinking along is odd because Jon always operates on fast forward. I could not believe my eyes. It was hilarious to see him; my son’s Hershey’s dark chocolate complexion is now grassy green. Trying to hold in my laugh, I asked him what happened.

We live on a residential block that is occupied approximately by 50% family. This type of living arrangement has its advantages, one being the massive amount of land the children can claim for daily adventures. Our house sits on two lots; our backyard is not fenced in and runs into the backyard of my cousin, which leaves the travels of a young mind open to try anything.

Jon rambled off an explanation of how his journey led him to the pile of sticks, next to the tree beside the garden, where a can of spray paint lay all alone but he only looked at it. Any mother can tell you that children get extremely confused when trying to remember the facts that may incriminate them in the court of Mom.

I don’t know how he does it. I swear he is definitely capable of finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. I can’t blame this totally on him. My children are being raised by a village while being simultaneously sabotaged by the village idiots. Who would leave spray paint cans abandoned in the same backyard where small children play?

Understanding what was on his face registered like the first time a child realizes Santa Claus may not be an actual member of society. He had spray painted his face with the green paint; paint that is intended for automobiles not faces, paint that my cousin used to touch up scratches on his car. My mind is racing. Is this going to last long? Tomorrow is picture day for preschool. How do I get it off? TOMORROW IS PICTURE DAY!

Looking at my moldy Hershey bar skinned son all I can imagine is his picture resembling one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. While pulling his clothes off and running a bath, I am hoping for easy success, but the more I wash him the shinier the green becomes. My frustration is building with every pass of the cloth. What is the best way to remove green spray paint from the delicate skin of a preschooler?

***

Someone should be held accountable for their lack of parent preparation. Sure hospitals help expectant mothers deliver the creatures that took up residence in their wombs but then what? Many hospitals offer a lactation consultant who visits new mothers offering advice on the best nutrition options for Junior, and possibly an introductory course on how to keep your new family addition relatively clean and sanitized, but as a parent I feel neglected, ill prepared and often times defeated. My hospital sent me home with my new bundle of joy and no instruction manual.

You are probably accessing your mental rolodex of parenting guides like What to Expect When You’re Expecting or Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care. These books are excellent for referencing when dealing with morning sickness, Braxton Hicks contractions, or even teething. Dr. Spock is wonderful in offering strategies for dismantling the ever growing temper tantrum of a possessed two-year-old. When I search the indexes of these manuals, my problem, more often than not, is missing from the listings.

I am in need of a comprehensive guide, one similar to the one I have for my Blu-ray player that is ever evolving online, updated with the festering mind of a growing boy. I need a troubleshooting section, one that describes how to release a seized zipper or remove spray paint fast, effectively and without poisoning my child. My boys are growing at unbelievable rate, their minds morph daily, the ideas they dream up are unfathomable and the feats they attempt to conquer are unbelievable.

Where is my instruction manual?

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